Bento Filler: Orange Juice Carrots


What, yet another carrot recipe? Well I do like carrots, and they are so handy - available year-round, cheap, and long-lasting in the refrigerator. This one may not look like much, but it tastes very interesting - a little sweet, a little sour, just a little bitter, with an underlying heat. This was originally presented as a dessert in one of my Japanese cookbooks (but I can’t for the life of me remember which one); the original had I believe maple syrup and/or honey in it, which I have mostly omitted. Instead I’ve added salt and a little soy sauce. It makes a nice contrasting accent in a bento, like a salad. Cutting the carrot slices into odd shapes is strictly optional.

Recipe: Orange Juice Carrots

  • The thick end of 3 large carrots
  • Orange juice (freshly squeezed is best but from a carton or concentrate is fine)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 whole red chili pepper
  • 1 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1/2 Tbs. maple syrup

Cut the top half of the carrots. Reserve the thin ends for another dish. Peel the parts you will use, and cut into fairly thick rounds. Cut out shapes at this point if you like.

Put the carrots and chili pepper in a pan, and add enough orange juice to cover. Add the salt. Bring up to a boil, and cook until the carrot slices crisp-tender, about 10 minutes. Add a little water if it looks like the pan will dry out before the carrots are cooked.

When the carrots are cooked, take out the whole chili pepper. Add the soy sauce and maple syrup, and rapidly boil until the juice is almost gone. Cool off before putting into your bento.

This will keep for about 3-4 days, well covered in the refrigerator.


Omit the salt and soy sauce, and add a vegetable stock cube or 1 teaspoon of vegetable stock powder (like Marigold) instead. Increase the maple syrup to 1 Tbs. and really boil down the liquid until it is syrupy, coating the carrots. This version is sweeter and more like glazed carrots.

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Re: Bento Filler: Orange Juice Carrots

Sounds tasty! Is there a reason why you only use the thick ends? Is it because the thin ends cook faster? Or is there a difference in taste that I haven't noticed becase it's been years since I've eaten a whole carrot at once?

If it's because of the cooking time, couldn't one just add the thin parts later, like with mixed pasta?

Re: Bento Filler: Orange Juice Carrots

I use the thick ends only to have uniform sized slices - they are also easier to cut shapes out of! The thin ends I cut up thinly and use in stir fries, kinpira or salads and so on.

Re: Bento Filler: Orange Juice Carrots

Uhm, I've noticed that you use a lot of Chili (or Chili Powder) in your dishes (e.g. This one, Kinpira etc). I'm not exactly a big fan of Chili, or spice for that matter, but will eat it if there is nothing I can do about it.

Will it affect the taste if I omit the chili powder in this recipe? As in, will it be too bland or something? Is there anything else I can use to substitute it?


Re: Bento Filler: Orange Juice Carrots

You can just leave the chili out. It just won't have that underlying hot flavor, but it should still be good!

Re: Bento Filler: Orange Juice Carrots

Can you use red pepper flakes or chili powder? I always have those, but a whole chili only in the summer when the chilis are a-bearin'!

Re: Bento Filler: Orange Juice Carrots

Sure! Though go easy on it since you can't take out the flakes/powder. Or, you could use a whole dried chili and take it out later.

Re: Bento Filler: Orange Juice Carrots

The fish are really cute! Did you cut each one out individually, or did you use some kind of mold or stencil? It's definitely a nice touch.

Re: Bento Filler: Orange Juice Carrots

I love these shapes too! My daughters had a book they loved that look just like this! I think it was "Kingyo-wa-Doko?" If this is a shape you bought, do you mind telling me where? I know a favorite shape will help in getting my daughters to try more in their bentos!
Thanks in advance!

Re: Bento Filler: Orange Juice Carrots

I don't remember where I bought the cutter...I am fairly sure it was online , it could have been J-List or even eBay... sorry, I really should keep track of these things! :/

Re: Bento Filler: Orange Juice Carrots

I tried simmering carrot coins (all sizes) in orange juice with slices of ginger for about 30 min, and they came out quite well, although subtle.

Re: Bento Filler: Orange Juice Carrots


I recently purchased your new cookbook and already tried two recipes from there. While tasty, the flavors are very subtle. I was curious so I searched the site and found that there are different versions of them online (for beef soboro and orange carrots)! The online versions seem to require more ingredients (which I imagine would make the flavors even more bold).

I was wondering if the cookbook was meant to be an even healthier version of recipes that can be found on your site (as well as some new ones)?


Re: Bento Filler: Orange Juice Carrots

Hi! What is the amount of orange juice needed for this recipe? It doesn't state here, thanks!

Re: Bento Filler: Orange Juice Carrots

You need enough orange juice to immerse the carrot pieces; the amount will vary depending on the size of the pan you're using.

Re: Bento Filler: Orange Juice Carrots

Hi Maki,
There are extra carrots in the fridge today which I cooked using your good recipe minus the pepper since my family doesn't like their food hot. I am amazed at the results - so simple yet tasty. My mother fell in love with this dish. We would like to say "thank you" for sharing such useful info.

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